". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Friday, February 21, 2014

Consequences: From Ebony and Ivy to Today's Campus Life

Two articles that should be considered together when thinking about our institutions of higher "learning."

This, a report from the NY Times of the neck  Ol Miss'd  James Meredith statue desecrated with a lynch noose and CSA flag,  + other racial incidents common on that campus;

and this report-history on fraternities from the Atlantic Monthly.

This is just the first paragraph!
One warm spring night in 2011, a young man named Travis Hughes stood on the back deck of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity house at Marshall University, in West Virginia, and was struck by what seemed to him—under the influence of powerful inebriants, not least among them the clear ether of youth itself—to be an excellent idea: he would shove a bottle rocket up his ass and blast it into the sweet night air. And perhaps it was an excellent idea. What was not an excellent idea, however, was to misjudge the relative tightness of a 20-year-old sphincter and the propulsive reliability of a 20-cent bottle rocket. What followed ignition was not the bright report of a successful blastoff, but the muffled thud of fire in the hole.
Historical enlightenment, of how the past keeps crawling into the present, is to read these two articles in the context of Ebony and Ivy League, Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America's Universities by Craig Steven Wilder.

Recall, Ol Miss was founded in 1848.  This is when Mississippi was the richest state in the Union, with the most millionaires, slaveholders all, who literally owned almost all the state and also owned the majority of its inhabitants. This is Jefferson Davis's world, which got the U.S. to go to war with Mexico to increase the wealth of the south generally and Mississippi's in general.  By this time Mississippi herself was no longer a slave consuming territory, but looking for territory to which she could sell her "overstock."

1848 was the chronological heart of the fire eater philosophy's successful conversion of southern thinking: slavery is God's will, the the most superior way of life, confirming that slaveowners were born to rule everyone else, no matter what their skin tone's heritage -- they were right, everyone else was wrong, and by god NO FRACKIN' TAXES! NO PUBLIC IMPROVEMENTS! NO TAXES FOR FEDERAL GUMMIT OR LOCAL EITHER.  NOTHING WHATSOEVER FOR THE PUBLIC GOOD!  ANYONE WHO WANTS PUBLIC GOOD IS FIT ONLY TO BE A SLAVE!  By 1850, losing the battle to force California's addition to the Union as a slave state, the fire eaters organized and held the first Secession Convention, in Nashville.*

Therefore, they lost the war that the fire eaters themselves forced upon the U.S.. Other associated attitudes came with fire eater philosophy, that supported their cultural assumptions, presumptions and behavior, further contributed to their inevitable defeat:

-  somebody else do it, I don't do -- that's for slaves;  I talk and give orders that must be obeyed on pain of whipping, slave and even death, if I so choose;

-  non-cooperation; refusal to take orders but only give them;

-  blowharding, blowharding, blowharding NO CONTRADICTION instead of dealing with facts and real information;

- devotion to a slave economy, that then perforce was an economy of credit only -- credit 100% dependent upon possession of the slaves in which credit was literally embodied -- and no hard, dependable currency or specie.

History does repeat itself, sadly.


* This is not strictly true.  The New England Federalists held a secession convention in Hartford in 1814, in opposition to the War of 1812.  However, the official minutes of the meeting left out the secession discussion, when the minutes were published.

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